Disclosing Death in Texas

By
Real Estate Agent with Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME

This post originally appeared on www.RErockstar.com on May 26, 2010.

A Place To Rest

Do you have to tell the buyer?

Death is a topic that most people don’t want to talk about in general and in real estate, it’s no different. I’ve been asked a few times about the details regarding death and disclosure in the state of Texas (more specifically, in San Antonio) when buying and selling a home. Questions such as; “This home seems cheap for this neighborhood, did someone die here?,” “It says ‘estate sale‘, does that mean that grandma died in the house?,” or “Do you know how they died?” are common, especially if there’s some indication of death, such as an estate sale.

The Texas Property Code covers this in Section 5.008(c):

Section 5.008(c) A seller or seller’s agent shall have no duty to make a disclosure or release information related to whether a death by natural causes, suicide, or accident unrelated to the condition of the property occurred on the property or whether a previous occupant had, may have had, has, or may have AIDS, HIV related illnesses, or HIV infection.

When a seller (or someone else) dies on or in a property, there is no requirement to disclose – as long as the death is related to natural causes, suicide, or unrelated to the property’s condition (if it is related to the condition of the property, you should be disclosing the defect, regardless of the death). However, the Texas Property Code does not mention homicide (murder), and this becomes a gray area that is often discussed in real estate law circles.

Disclose, disclose, disclose.

It is my opinion that disclosure is the best course of action when it comes to death. I am not an attorney and therefore can only tell sellers and buyers in San Antonio what the Texas Property Code states (and refer them to a real estate attorney who specializes in these issues), but when in doubt – disclose. I’ve never heard of a case where a seller runs into trouble because they’ve disclosed too much.

My view is that you’re better off disclosing the death now, before your neighbors do. Neighbors like to talk and tell potential buyers info they know about a home. No one wants to be surprised by the news of a death on the property, so if you disclose it up front, you eliminate that potential awkward situation when the buyer comes back to you and says “I hear someone died on the property.”

If you’ve experienced a death in your home or on your property and you wish to not disclose the fact to your agent or any potential buyers, I suggest you speak with a qualified real estate attorney beforehand to be sure you don’t run afoul of any laws.

photo courtesy of astimewise

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Topic:
Home Selling
Location:
Texas Bexar County San Antonio
Groups:
Advice for Sellers
All Thing's Texas
Posts to Localism
RE/MAX Active Rain Bloggers
San Antonio Information
Tags:
distressed property
buyer
do i have to
murder
die
homicide
suicide
seller
disclosure
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Rainmaker
270,627
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME

Lee and Pamela - Because it is not a required disclosure, there is no "official" way to disclose such a thing.  I would disclose it to the agent, so that when the question arises, it can be handled.  Of course, if the death was caused by a property condition, then it is something that needs disclosed and should be disclosed on the Seller's Disclosure form (as part of the details).

June 28, 2010 02:22 PM
Rainmaker
1,084,017
Jim Frimmer
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
HomeSmart Realty West

We have to disclose deaths out here if they happened within the last three years. Maybe it's two years. I'll have to check. Fortunately, I haven't had the need to do that yet.

July 21, 2010 12:44 AM
Anonymous #10
Anonymous
m

What about a homicide in a rental property in Texas?  If the homicide occurred prior to the current landlord's purchase must the current landlord disclose this information to potential tenants?  Interested in anyone's info.

September 02, 2010 12:16 AM
Anonymous #11
Anonymous
Anonymous

"Disclose, Disclose, Disclose."  Easy for yall to say.  I just bought a short sale to flip.  I'm a Realtor.  I just recently found out from a neighbor there was a suicide outside the home by hanging two owners ago.  She jumped out a window.  A ten yr old neighbor found her hanging against the wall.  I will not be disclosing this.  I didn't know it when I bought it.  I think it was kind of messed up for the neighbor to tell me quite frankly. Why would you tell a new neighbor this?  All this disclose talk is BS.  The law has deemed suicide not material.  I don't think it's material.  Some might, but they shouldn't.  I think all this disclose talk would be a lot different if it were your own home.  The article says "I’ve never heard of a case where a seller runs into trouble because they’ve disclosed too much."  That's crap.  I have represented a client where she backed out of a deal bc she thought the house was haunted.  It was an estate sale.  Turns out the owner didn't die in the property.  She died in another state.  My client still insisted the house was haunted.  Having sold about two hundred homes I can tell you one thing "buyers are crazy".  And, I've never seen anywhere ever a disclosure with suicide or any death for that matter.  Food for thought "what about an overdose?"  I have listed a home where the girl overdosed while I had it listed.  We took it off the market went through probate and back on the market.  Not disclosing that one either.

August 20, 2013 01:19 AM
Anonymous #12
Anonymous
Elevensux
Well.. You suck #11.
March 12, 2014 05:38 PM
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Rainmaker
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Matt Stigliano

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